Our favorite director cameos

Behind the camera or in front of it? Make up your mind!

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  • APOCALYPSE NOW (1979)

    APOCALYPSE NOW (1979)

  • THE FLY (1986)

    THE FLY (1986)

  • PIERROT LE FOU (1965)

    PIERROT LE FOU (1965)

  • THE BIRDS (1963)

    THE BIRDS (1963)

  • THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (1948)

    THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (1948)

  • PAT GARRETT & BILLY THE KID (1973)

    PAT GARRETT & BILLY THE KID (1973)

  • CHINATOWN (1974)

    CHINATOWN (1974)

  • THE LONG GOODBYE (1973)

    THE LONG GOODBYE (1973)

  • TAXI DRIVER (1976)

    TAXI DRIVER (1976)

  • AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER (2002)

    AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER (2002)

APOCALYPSE NOW (1979)

APOCALYPSE NOW (1979)

With a stunning, new restoration of Taxi Driver in theaters (read our ), it's high time to reacquaint yourself with these tongue-in-cheek cameos.

Francis Ford Coppola in APOCALYPSE NOW (1979)
Coppola's cameo is the movie's best wink-wink joke: He plays a director. "Don't look at the camera," he screams at soldiers as a TV news crew films away. "Just pretend you're fighting!" It's a gallows-humorous dig at the media's living-room war—as well as the "horror" of a control freak trying to re-create Nam on celluloid.—DF

David Cronenberg in THE FLY (1986)
What woman wouldn't want David Cronenberg presiding when they're giving birth to an adorable, wriggly fly larva? Decked out in doctor scrubs and peering from behind oversize glasses, the cool-voiced auteur figures in a memorable dream sequence, in which he helps Geena Davis through a particularly eventful labor.—KU

Samuel Fuller in PIERROT LE FOU (1965)
Superfan Jean-Luc Godard cast the Shock Corridor director as a cigar-chomping partygoer who drops beaucoup science: "A film is like a battleground....There's love, hate, action, violence, death. In one word: emotion." Thanks to his appearance in this Pop Art masterpiece, a new generation was introduced to a Hollywood-pulp legend.—DF

Alfred Hitchcock in THE BIRDS (1963)
The man was known for making brief appearances—spotting him became a kind of parlor game among cinephiles. Of Hitch's many cameos to choose from (none are significant; all are enjoyable), we like this one from The Birds, mainly because it has cute dogs in it.—JR

John Huston in THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (1948)
Sure, everyone loves Humphrey Bogart. But in this scrappy South of the Border thriller, an impeccably dressed man in a white suit is having none of him. Bogie, down on his luck, asks the dapper American for a meal. The coin offered by cameoing writer-director Huston is basically code for "Scram."—JR

Sam Peckinpah in PAT GARRETT & BILLY THE KID (1973)
Who better to play a man disgusted with authority than the notoriously nonconformist filmmaker himself? Peckinpah's cameo features the director laying into James Coburn's corrupt lawman with a profanity-filled vengeance. He's so contemptuous that he won't sip from the sheriff's flask—maybe the only time in history Peckinpah ever refused a drink.—DF

Roman Polanski in CHINATOWN (1974)
What is it about directors playing vicious creeps? (Brace yourself for more.) In Polanski's complex mystery, the director materializes out of the night with a switchblade, approaching Jack Nicholson's gumshoe with a bone-chilling, "Hold it there, kitty cat." Somehow, his height doesn't matter.—JR

Mark Rydell in THE LONG GOODBYE (1973)
Directing the grandma-safe On Golden Pond was in his future. But you wouldn't want to confuse Rydell's real-life empathies for those of his unforgettable character in Robert Altman's hazy L.A. noir: a casually violent gangster who, on a whim, destroys a model's face with a Coke bottle.—JR

Martin Scorsese in TAXI DRIVER (1976)
The bearded dude looms in the backseat of Travis Bickle's ride; just another fare, you think. He tells the hack to stop. Out of his mouth comes a rant—sexist, racist, beyond frightening—making it clear that there are psychos in this town worse than our unhinged antihero.—JR

Steven Spielberg in AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER (2002)
The Hollywood titan pops up in the third Austin Powers's precredits sequence, directing a big-budget feature (starring Tom Cruise and Gwyneth Paltrow) based on the International Man of Mystery's exploits. He wields his Oscars with pompous certitude and hilariously caps it off—thanks to a stunt double, we hope—with perfectly executed backflips.—KU

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